Putin's nuclear rhetoric aims at undermining Western support for Ukraine

For two consecutive days, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been raising the specter of nuclear weapons, suggesting a potential shift in Russia's nuclear doctrine to "lower the threshold" for their use. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believes that these threats are aimed at discouraging further Western support for Ukraine and disrupting international efforts to counter Russia's aggressive actions.

On June 21, during a speech, Putin emphasized Russia's commitment to developing its nuclear triad to ensure strategic deterrence and maintain a global power balance. He also mentioned efforts to boost conventional combat capabilities and defense industrial production. The previous day, in a press conference in Vietnam, Putin hinted that Russia might consider lowering the threshold for nuclear use. He argued that a potential defeat of Russian forces in Ukraine could threaten Russia's statehood, framing such a defeat as an existential threat.

ISW suggests that Putin's statements are a strategic move to justify potential deviations from Russia's current nuclear doctrine under extreme circumstances. By equating a defeat in Ukraine with a fundamental threat to Russia, Putin seeks to legitimize drastic measures, including possible nuclear escalation.

The ISW also notes that while the threat of nuclear escalation is a significant part of Russia's strategy to influence international decision-making, the actual use of nuclear weapons remains unlikely. Existing nuclear and conventional deterrence mechanisms serve as strong deterrents against such escalation.

Putin's rhetoric seems aligned with efforts to weaken Western unity against Russia's invasion of Ukraine and prevent a coordinated and decisive response to Russia's aggressive actions.

Russian missile strike damages energy equipment in Zaporizhzhia and Lviv oblasts

On the night of June 21-22, Russian forces launched their eighth large-scale combined attack on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, resulting in injuries to two people. The attack targeted facilities in Zaporizhzhia and Lviv oblasts, damaging equipment belonging to Ukrenergo, Ukraine's main power company.

The assault underscores the ongoing strategy of attacking critical infrastructure, aiming to disrupt the country's power supply and create further instability. This latest attack is part of a broader campaign to weaken Ukraine's resilience by targeting essential services and civilian infrastructure. The damaged facilities will likely require significant repair efforts to restore full functionality, adding strain to the already beleaguered power grid.

Russians kill post office worker delivering pensions in Vovchansk district

Russians kill post office worker delivering pensions in Vovchansk hromada – photo

On the afternoon of June 21, Russian forces used a drone to attack Ukrposhta (Ukrainian Postal Service) vehicles transporting and delivering pensions in the Vovchansk hromada. This assault resulted in the tragic death of the 45-year-old manager of the mobile post office and injuries to the driver accompanying her.

Serhii Lysak, Head of Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration, reported that the injured driver managed to reach Buhaivka on foot, where Ukrainian military personnel found him and facilitated his hospitalisation in Kharkiv. Unfortunately, due to ongoing severe shelling, access to the area where the post office worker was killed remains impossible.

In a separate incident, the Kharkiv Oblast Prosecutor's Office reported that at around 14:20, Russian forces launched an airstrike on Borova in the Izium district, injuring a 63-year-old man and damaging homes and stores in the area.

Two people injured in Russian attacks on Toretsk suburb and New-York

On June 21, Russian troops carried out strikes on the suburb of Toretsk and the village of New-York, resulting in two injuries.

Anastasia Miedviedieva, the spokesperson for the Donetsk Oblast Prosecutor's Office, reported that at 16:00, the occupiers targeted the village of Pivnichne in the Toretsk district. During the attack, a 56-year-old driver sustained shrapnel wounds while driving along one of the streets.

Shortly after, at 16:20, Russian forces struck the village of New York, injuring a 56-year-old woman who received immediate medical assistance.

Pre-trial investigations have been launched under Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which addresses violations of the laws and customs of war.

Russian forces hit house in Kharkiv

Russian forces hit house in Kharkiv, killing and injuring civilians

Russian forces launched four strikes on one of the districts of the city of Kharkiv on the afternoon of 22 June. Early reports indicate that Kharkiv has been struck four times. A densely populated residential area has reportedly been hit, which led to casualties and fatalities among civilians.

The Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration noted that the Russians had used glide bombs for this attack.

Later, reports emerged of at least two civilians killed and two injured in the attack.